Tuesday late afternoon

NANG RONG, July 17 – They call themselves the garbage bankers.

In fact, they are 8 teenagers, members of a 30-youth committee that runs a roadside garbage business. Using skills they learned from PDA, they buy garbage from a local village, sort it and sell it to the nearest town’s recycling center.

They store the garbage in a two-room warehouse that could pass for a house to the uneducated passerby. Inside, the goods are carefully sorted. (These kids put American recyclers to shame.) A wall of the interior room is adorned with boards that detail the resale prices of each item: 47-52 baht per kilogram of aluminum cans, 1.5-1.9 baht per kilogram of glass.

Since last April, they have made an aggregate profit of 15,000 baht. They split the profit between pocket money and tools that will improve their work.

Garbage bank leaders

PDA invests in youth because it knows adults will follow. And these are youth with dreams bigger than even the largest garbage warehouse. They talk knowledgeably about their garbage business, but when the topic switches to their aspirations for the future, they beam.

One wants to be a nurse, another a computer programmer. Chanthiporn Chanteth, the smiling girl clutching a notebook and eager to practice her English, proudly said, “I am a teacher.”

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